A Missile Shield We Can Believe In

All The President's Men, 2009: "You're missing the overall! Follow the money!"

Let’s see if we’ve got this straight: Glenn Beck says Barack Obama is a racist. Rush Limbaugh says white kids are now fair game for angry black kids “in Barack Obama’s America.” Keith Olbermann says any number of people are the Worst Person In the World. Rep. Joe Wilson calls the POTUS a liar in the midst of an official presidential address to Congress; health care reform opponents equate proposed changes with socialism, communism, Nazism and worse; Nancy Pelosi says all this outrage over health care is veering dangerously toward political violence.

And the only thing I know for an absolute fact is that most of the major news outlets in America are run by entertainment executives whose MBA-wielding bosses are way more Adam Smith than they are Edward Murrow.

Remember “All The President’s Men,” and those midnight parking garage meetings between Bob Woodward and Deep Throat? “You’re missing the overall! Follow the money!” The super-secret Watergate informant was one Nielsens overnights reference away from nailing the secret to the corruption of the political discourse in the 21st century, too.

Follow the jump (and the money) for more…

Follow the money: Rampant deregulation of the broadcast medium — both in ownership rules and public service guidelines — leads to unrestricted profiteering. The primacy of profits over content steers news programs away from think-y, wonk-y issues like policy and cost/benefit analyses to hot-blooded subjects like lies and the lying liars who tell them. And really now, when you’re flipping through the cable after dinner what catches your eye: a weighty white paper report on the tertiary economic impact of a publicly run health care system, or a heated argument about whether Joe WIlson is, in fact, a secret member of the KKK?

Me, I’m with the Klan conversation.

But I’m a media observer. It’s my professional obligation to watch the stupidest stuff imaginable, and then tell you why you’re such a loser for doing it, too.

Just remember: there’s a reason why PBS’s News Hour isn’t on a for-profit network. There’s a reason why borderline personality cases have come to define the political discourse. Not because some of our forebears were pilgrims in search of righteousness and freedom. But because the rest of them were savvy empire builders who knew why the sun turns the western horizon gold. Go west, young man. Grow with the country. Follow the money. And don’t worry about what it takes to get there.